staff, September 25, 2014

Dr. Kathleen Anderson?s curriculum vitae paints a portrait of a serious scholar in the field of animal studies, and equine sciences in particular.

She has a Ph.D. in animal science from Kansas State University, an M.S. in the physiology of reproduction from Texas A&M, and a bachelor?s in animal science and agricultural education from the University of Nebraska. The honors she?s received stretch back two decades - the latest being the 2014 Equine Science Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in research, teaching and extension work in the equine industry.

Dr. Kathleen Anderson UNL

Yet listen to her talk about her experiences with horses and a softer picture emerges. Anderson speaks about this subject with the same passion and delight she discovered in junior high school, when she bought her first horse. Where did her fascination with this animal come from?

?Sometimes my parents asked the same thing,? she answered, laughing. ?I didn?t grow up on a farm. My father was in the service. I was just a typical horse-crazy kid.?

This lifelong passion for horses has been the driving force behind her career as an educator and an ambassador for the benefits of equine studies. An associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Anderson devotes half her time to teaching and half her time to extension work. Her work at the university level is serious and scholarly, and includes classes on horse management, nutrition and reproduction, and the equine industry.

Her other focus is on outreach, especially to young people.

?I love my work with 4-H,? she said. ?I like to help the younger ones.?

In a time when their attention is seemingly absorbed by mobile devices, the Web and video games, how does Anderson get children and adolescents interested in working with horses? The secret to maintaining their interest - as well as her own - is to ?get back to the barn and back on the horse,? she said.

?Technology is a challenge,? she added. ?It?s harder and harder all the time, with so many distractions for young kids. They?re way more constrained with their time. Getting them to turn off the games and the phones is tough. But when they do, they love it.?

In addition to her teaching and extension work, Anderson spends a significant amount of time keeping up with trends in the industry. She raises and shows Western Pleasure horses, is active in a number of professional equine associations, and is a sought-after judge for horse shows.

Anderson has been a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty since 1991. And despite the length of her tenure, she?s still going strong.

?My husband and I really like the community,? she explained. ?It?s a thriving, supportive group. And I?ve tried very hard to keep my work fresh and innovative, by finding new and different classes to teach, preparing new programs and staying connected with a constantly evolving horse industry.?

By Steven Womack

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